In recent years, the psychological horror film has leapfrogged many of its siblings, establishing it, stylistically, as one of horror's most shocking and intense sub-genres. Unflinching exposes, such as May, Gacy, American Psycho, and Nightstalker, are just a few bone-chilling examples. Justin Paul Ritter's 2004 independently-produced KatieBird - Certifiable Crazy Person generously employs the traditional staples of the modern psycho thriller, resulting in a relentless, brutal, and bloody, film that's justifiably insane.
The viewer must tread lightly when experiencing KatieBird. If your moxie's not sufficient enough to endure the horrific, graphically depicted scenarios, be forewarned to expect the very worst in human depravity. The seasoned horror fan, however, typically invites this journey into homicidal madness, as to futilely satisfy their innate desire to experience the dark side of the human psyche. It's the nature of the beast.
The film opens with KatieBird Wilkins, an attractive blonde, having sexual relations with her psychologist, Dr. Mark Richardson (Todd Gordon). Dr. Richardson's fateful fling with his most disturbing and dangerous patient climaxes with him being chained to a bed, at KatieBird's total mercy, as she recounts her beginnings as one of a long family line of serial killers.
In numerous flashbacks, KatieBird's tutored to kill by her mild-mannered father (Lee Perkins) in unsettling, matter-of -fact techniques. Her prime victim is wimpy Kevin (Jun Hee Lee), the high school hunk who makes the mistake of cheating on her, resulting in a scene that would make an orthodontist wince.
KatieBird is portrayed in the film by two outstanding actresses: Helene Udy, who plays the older KatieBird, and Taylor M. Dooley, the teen. From the get-go, the ladies knew this wasn't typical Hollywood feel-good fare.
"The graphic content horrified me. It scared the poop out of me. I had to do it!" says Helene. "Justin wanted to do a `real' horror movie, and make the graphic scenes as believable as possible."
"I was excruciatingly nervous about playing this kind of character. I'm always asking myself silly questions like `who am I representing out there that needs to be understood'?', and the answer is: `A very disturbed person'-and do we really want to understand her, or just put her away? The challenge was to try to make her multi- dimensional, and not just a horror movie monster. It was overwhelming, but that's what eventually hooked me."
Taylor sympathizes. "I remember feeling squirmy and uncomfortable while reading the torture scenes. I'm thinking to myself: `Can I go to a place where that would be enjoyable?' What was most disturbing to me about the screenplay was the 'normal' relationship between Katiebird and her father, especially when she has a heart-to-heart talk with her dad after pulling out a handcuffed, half-naked boy's teeth. Crazy murderous people can't have functional relationships, can they'? Yep ... they can and do."
Keeping tabs on the indie scene can benefit actors hungry for that nice, juicy part.
"I've always been interested in the scene and stay close to what's happening," says Helene. "I saw Justin's ad in Backstage West and it intrigued me. I sent him my resume, and we met. He wanted to tell me about the project and his directorial plans for it before I read the script. It was Justin's ideas that drew me in and made me decide to do it. I knew I was taking a big chance, but that's what life's about, right'? So.... That's how I got to pulling some guy's face off with a saw."